Four books deep into Emma Viskic’s oeuvre and it’s clear she’s one of the best contemporary practitioners of the private-eye genre. I’ve been a big fan from the start, called Resurrection Bay a tour-de-force back in 2015 before realising each successive offering was going to be better than its predecessor, and gloriously add to the overall grand tapestry of her overarching narrative: the (attempted) redemption of Caleb Zelic.
The easy pitch for the series is: deaf private eye obstinately confronts the corruption rife in his hometown of Resurrection Bay, while bungling every single one of his personal relationships. Those Who Perish follows that same basic throughline. While Caleb’s relationship with his pregnant ex-wife Kat seems back on track, his brother Anton has relapsed into his drug habit, and they’ve been estranged for months. An anonymous tip-off alerts Caleb to his whereabouts, which is into the sights of a sniper, who has already killed at least once.
Caleb’s investigation leads him to Muttonbird Island, where Ant has been receiving treatment. But the close-knit, isolated community makes it difficult to differentiate friend from foe, and Caleb’s determination to rescue Ant puts him firmly at odds with his rehabilitation; and puts a target on his own back, as well as Kat’s, thereby (once again) threatening to completely destabilise their relationship.
The plot is tautly constructed, with a couple of seismic twists, and a pulse-pounding ending. Her prose echoes Chandler and Macdonald, tinged with something distinctly Australian. But Viskic knows her readers are less concerned with the mechanics of the investigation, rather how the investigation affects Caleb and those around him; another verse in the bittersweet symphony of his life.
Number Of Pages: 304
Available: 1st March 2022
Publisher: Bonnier Echo